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Poll: Most Americans Want to Celebrate Columbus Day

Painting of an Italian man with a tri-cornered hat in black and white robes.

A vast majority of Americans support celebrating a holiday honoring Christopher Columbus, according to a poll released this week. While Leftists recently have targeted Columbus for ridicule and rejection, historians agree on his monumental impact.

Patrick Korten, a member of the board of directors at the National Christopher Columbus Association (NCCA), told PJ Media Columbus' arrival in the Americas was "the single most consequential act in human history." Even in recent years, historians have published new books about the ways Columbus impacted the modern world. Particularly notable are 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, both by Charles C. Mann.

Perhaps in light of this, a Marist/Knights of Columbus (KOC) poll conducted in September found that 57 percent of Americans said they think "it is a good idea ... to have a holiday named after Christopher Columbus." Only 29 percent said they think it is a "bad idea," while 15 percent remained undecided.

Americans in general had a positive view of Columbus. Just over half (56 percent) said they had a "very favorable" or a "favorable" view of the great navigator, while only 28 percent said they had an "unfavorable" or a "very unfavorable" view. Some Americans (12 percent) remained "unsure," while only 3 percent said they had never heard of Columbus.

More Americans had a "favorable" view (44 percent) than any other view, and less than half as many (20 percent) had an "unfavorable" view.

Furthermore, a vast majority of respondents said they think "Christopher Columbus and other historical figures should be judged by the standards of conduct during the time they lived" rather than "by the standards of conduct of today." More than three-quarters (76 percent) said historical figures should be judged by the standards of their own time, while less than one-in-five (16 percent) said they should be judged by today's standards.

Korten, whose organization supports the study of Columbus' impact on history and opposes efforts to rename Columbus Day "Indigenous People's Day," mentioned that Italian-Americans take special pride in Columbus. For much of America's history, Italian immigrants have not been considered "white," nor do they identify as "white."

Perhaps for this reason, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists have targeted Columbus since at least the 1920s.

Even so, Korten emphasized that celebrating Columbus' history "is not a matter of race, but a matter of remembering an unprecedented encounter between peoples from vastly different cultures and societies who found out for the first time that the other existed."

Interestingly, Columbus based his voyage off of a grossly inaccurate understanding of the globe. He thought China was thousands of miles closer to Spain than it actually really was, but he nevertheless convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to finance his journey.